Donation gets local students into astronomy

4 November 2015

Mt Stromlo will be the site of a new astronomical teaching observatory for high school students following two donations to the University.

Winner of the 2014 Prime Minister's Prize for Science Teaching in Secondary Schools, Geoff McNamara has contributed a $10,000 telescope which will be the heart of the observatory.

Dr Denis Saunders and his wife Vee donated $35,000 to fund building of a dome and a mount for the telescope. Dr Saunders, a wildlife biologist with CSIRO, graduated from ANU with a science degree in 1967.

"Vee and I are very impressed with Geoff's enthusiasm and total commitment to teaching science," Dr Saunders said.

Astronomer at the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics (RSAA) Dr Brad Tucker said he was looking forward to working with students.

"It will be a great opportunity for school students to meet and work with astronomers here at Mt Stromlo," Dr Tucker said.

Mr McNamara bought the telescope in 2012 for teaching high school students, around the time he won the Eureka Prize for Science or Mathematics teaching.

In 2014 he was awarded the Prime Minister's Prize for the science program at his school, Melrose High. As the teaching observatory comes online at Mt Stromlo, this program will be extended to all high school students in ACT.

Students will be able to carry out their own research projects, assisted by astronomers from the ANU. Mr McNamara will manage and operate the telescope.

The new telescope will be built on the site of the Uppsala Telescope which was lost in the 2003 bushfires.